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The movie had a difficult time getting shown in England. When the movie was first submitted to the British film review board, it was rejected because it appeared that Queen Elizabeth II was acting in the movie. Producer Samuel Z. Arkoff managed to get the board's approval by adding a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie stating that the Royal Family had not participated in the making of the movie and that Queen Elizabeth's appearance was done using newsreel footage. Then English distributor EMI, which was the distributor of Arkoff's movies in England, stated to the press that that they were "a defender of the palace" and refused to handle the movie. The Rank Organization, the other major film distributor in England, also joined the boycott for the same reason. Ultimately, the movie only played in a few theaters in England. See more »
Very under-rated political thriller, more topical and plausible now than it was back in the '70s.
Back in 1975, when this controversial political thriller was released, critics were quick to call it "implausible", "unbelievable" and "far-fetched". But since then, the western world has had a few wake-up calls. The 9/11 terrorist attacks; the Madrid bombings; hunt-campaigners breaking into Parliament and hurling powder pellets onto the Prime Minister; the suicide bombings on the London Underground.... to name but a few. In retrospect, Hennessy may have been made at a time when the top-brass of Britsh and American governments and armies thought themselves invulnerable, but looking at it from a modern perspective this is a chillingly possible tale. It is not even slightly far-fetched or implausible.... this is a genuinely unsettling, suspenseful and thought-provoking thriller.
Northern Irish explosive expert Niall Hennessy (Rod Steiger) lives a peaceful life in Belfast with his wife and daughter. He has IRA contacts, including the dangerous and wanted Tobin (Eric Porter), but Hennessy repeatedly refuses to get involved in their violent activities, even refusing to provide them with small amounts of gelignite. However, one day during a street riot the British Army inadvertently open fire on the rioters, and in the confusion Hennessy's wife and child are killed. Distraught, Hennessy heads for London with the aim of revisiting his loss on the English capital. His unthinkable plot is to blow up the Royal Family and the members of parliament in the House of Peers. Fearing a backlash and an influx of extra soldiers in Belfast, Tobin sets out to stop Hennessy. Also, Special Branch detective Inspector Hollis (Richard Johnson - who also came up with the film's story) races against time to prevent Hennessy's explosive scheme.
As in The Day Of The Jackal, the audience knows from the outset that Hennessy's horrifying plot is doomed to fail.... but also like The Day Of The Jackal, this film still generates terrific excitement. Hennessy, as essayed by the excellent Rod Steiger (in one of his most subtle, least hammy roles), is a very sympathetic figure and it is only because his revenge plot is so terrible that we do not want him to succeed. Hollis, the cop out to stop him, is very convincingly played by Richard Johnson, and there are further notable performances from Lee Remick as the widow of a one-time IRA saboteur and Trevor Howard as Hollis's over-confident, under-cautious superior. Director Don Sharp, whose films are usually mediocre at best, is in uncommonly good form, serving up a thriller of considerable tension and topicality. In today's vulnerable society, films of this kind remind us of the perilous position we're in at the mercy of embittered extremists.... and Hennessy is one of the best of its type.
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